Senior Spotlight: Golonka finds balance between nursing program and soccer

Christina Golonka, senior nursing major, knew she wanted to join the Waynesburg University nursing program since the first time she looked at the school. The program’s reputation is what initially intrigued her.

“Waynesburg has an outstanding nursing program. In 2016, Waynesburg University had, and still has, a 100% pass rate for the NCLEX,” Golonka said. “I did not plan on playing soccer at the collegiate level, but I was able to do both.”

It was on a particular visit that Golonka realized she could continue her soccer career while also pursuing her dream of becoming a nurse, solidifying her decision to come to Waynesburg University.

“Coach Laura [Heethuis] arranged a visit for me to see the nursing department, and I was able to meet some of the nursing instructors and view the simulation lab,” Golonka said. “I really fell in love with both the soccer program and nursing program that day, and soon after that visit, I made my decision to come to Waynesburg.”

However, the balance wasn’t easy to find. A guiding hand helped Galonka stay on her path to becoming the person she is today.

“I remember desperately sitting in Dr. Parson’s office my sophomore year of nursing and thinking I could never continue to play soccer and continue to pursue my nursing career, and she told me to never give up,” Golonka said. “Those words stuck with me, and I pushed myself in both the classroom and on the field for the remainder of my academic and athletic career. That simple advice shaped me and made me who I am today.”

After graduation, Golonka is moving to Charlotte, North Carolina, where she is accepting a registered nurse residency program position with Novant Health. She will still be receiving education during the 12-month program and will be able to join a cardiac unit of her choosing upon completing the program. Golonka hopes to continue her education and become a nurse practitioner.

Dr. Sherry Parsons, assistant professor of nursing, remembers Golonka as a student who truly cares for her professors.

“My memories of Christina [Golonka] will always center around the fact that she always asks me how I am doing at the beginning of every class,” Parsons said. “She is always genuinely interested in what is going on with me.”

According to Parsons, Golonka was never afraid to ask for advice, even when she already knew what Parsons would tell her.

“One funny memory that I will always remember about Christina and will probably attach to her in years to come is that she always asks me for advice,” Parsons said. “Before I answer she will say, ‘I already know what you are going to tell me, but I wanted to hear you say it.’ It makes me laugh every time.”

While Waynesburg’s nursing program presents many challenges, Golonka stayed committed to her vision.

“At times, the nursing program can be very challenging, and there are times when you want to stop,” Golonka said. “But you have to remember why you started.”

The challenges of the program have helped Golonka grow and taught her a valuable lesson she will take with her beyond Waynesburg University.

“I have grown so much over the years as both a student-nurse and a person,” Golonka said. “If this program has taught me anything, it has taught me to work hard and to never give up on yourself.”

Parsons hopes that Golonka will continue to challenge herself over the course of her nursing career.

“Surround yourself with people who challenge you in every way,” Parsons said. “One of my favorite sayings is, ‘If you are the smartest person in the room, you are in the wrong room.’”

As for nursing students returning in the fall, Golonka offers the advice she used to complete the program.

“When you think about giving up, think about why you started,” she said.